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June 23, 2018

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Bring POL prices down: CJP

KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ordered the institutions concerned to lower the prices of Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) products and sought a comprehensive formula to decrease the prices within 10 days.

He warned if there was any lacuna in the formula, no one would be spared. He remarked that the institutions increased the prices of petroleum products at will. He asked the institutions concerned not to beat about the bush and come up with a comprehensive formula in this regard.

The Supreme Court (SC) expressed reservations about the briefing of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and other officials and directed them to review the mechanism of petroleum prices and imposition of taxes.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday conducted hearing into the case pertaining to prices of petroleum products at Karachi Registry of the apex court.

The court ordered to submit details of Ogra and PSO heads’ appointment and commission of petroleum products dealers.

The CJP asked in what capacity the heads of these institutions are working. “The public is fed up with the continuous rise in petroleum prices and the court will not spare anyone who is responsible,” he said.

The chief justice inquired the procedure to minimise the petroleum prices. Secretary finance said the government has not augmented the prices as the interim government has been burdened by the decision of the previous ruling party. He maintained that the prices can be increased further to lessen the loss.

“It means that the citizens will be punished more. The court is not satisfied with the process of prices’ increase and taxes,” remarked the CJP. “The petroleum prices in Pakistan are still the lowest in the region,” replied the secretary.

“I have heard this argument several times that the prices are less than India. Review the price of dollar also in the neighbouring country,” said the CJP. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar expressed annoyance at what he called the persistent blame game between institutions in taking responsibility for surging petroleum prices.

Managing Director of Pakistan State Oil (PSO), who appeared before the court Friday, told the bench that 22 companies, including PSO, are buyers of petroleum products. Every company put forward demand estimates for the next three months during a joint meeting, he informed the court.

Asked about the pricing mechanism, the PSO MD told the court that average prices of petroleum products are determined by global oil prices. The CJP however was not satisfied with the response and told the official that the court would verify the records listed in the report with the help of experts.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, expressing his annoyance at the failure of Ogra chairman to appear before the court, questioned who was responsible for making the pricing policies.

The PSO MD told the court that the policies are made by the Ogra. Ogra officials who were present however contended that the impression that the body is responsible for the policies is wrong.

The pricing mechanism for petroleum products is devised by the government, Ogra officials informed the bench. To this, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar remarked that every institution appeared keen to pile blame on the other. He also appeared irked by the differences in commission rates set by dealers. “It looks as if this is all a monopoly by dealers and their institutions,” the CJP observed.

The court, while adjourning the hearing till July 5, directed to submit a comprehensive reply from the institutions concerned.

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